I began a love affair with this genus in 1995 during my first visit to E. Nepal, and the romance has continued each autumn as we would rendezvous across much of Asia; Vietnam, Taiwan, Sikkim, Bhutan, W. China. Though because it was always in full flower in autumn, with youthful seed capsules months from ripening, the proposal to come away with me and try living a civilized life in the West never materialized. For reasons I cannot fully explain, despite its widespread status in the wild, it seems as if no one else has successfully distributed this plant in cultivation to the point it deserves, at least in North America.
A member of the Rubiaceae, which claims such classics as the gardenia and coffee, this rather small genus of shrubs (4-5 species) would make a splendid container candidate for the cool greenhouse in colder climates though perfectly adapted to benign gardening sites of the Puget Sound southward to the Bay Area where summer temperatures remain cool during the summer. Because they blossom in autumn through winter, they too are warranted a look by public conservatories as well as by the ‘pot plant’ industry. The staff of Quarryhill Botanic Garden in Sonoma, CA, equally perplexed as to its general absence in horticulture, report it to be fully hardy and a splendid addition to their collection. [Read more…]